It only takes one word to give you hope, or strength, or encouragement.  It only takes one word to help make the day and all that it brings easier to handle.  Some times, that word will stick with you for days, weeks, even months.  Other times, depending on the events of the day, as well as the emotions, your word might change to convey what you need most.  That word gives you a handle, a rope, something to hold tight onto.

This week my Illuminate photography assignment was to think of one word.  Then go out and find those letters to make up the word in a series of photos.  Sounds simple right?  Well, the catch is you can’t use the easy things like street signs.  My word…is trust.  It is a word that has been with me since we were in labor and delivery.  The plaque in the picture was given to us at the hospital.  Trust, it seems like a simple innocent word, but it is really a strong, powerful word, that can bring so much with it.  The verse that goes with this is Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go.”

So, my journey began.  St. Paul is filled with so much architectural detail it was fun driving around town to find hidden letters.  Incidentally, when it came down to it, most of the letters I ended up using were from my own backyard.  Trust… 

This week I have also been challenged to write about the future.  Where might I be in 1 month, 6 months, 1 year from now.  This is our last Illuminate assignment and for whatever reason, this has been my hardest.  The letters I found easily.  It is the writing that I have needed time to let sink in.

Before thinking forward, I needed to reflect on the past year.  It was a year ago this week that I found out we were pregnant with Samantha.  She is our first baby.  We had decided earlier in the year to begin to grow our family.  Last December our family grew by one more.  Samantha was our, as well as our families special early Christmas present.  Had the pregnancy gone without complications, right now a year later from that moment, would be a lot different.  Then again, so would have this past year and a year from now would have been a whole different path.

Instead, my path had different intentions and decided on a different way to go.  This way that it went was not a choice of mine.  However, I have learned to walk in this new direction.  This past year has been filled with loss and also filled with joys.  Even though Samantha is now in heaven, we celebrated a lot this year with weddings, holidays, a 95th birthday, and life.  I have met new people, gotten closer to others, and built stronger relationships.

Thinking ahead I know I want to continue doing some of the new things I picked up this year, I want to expand things, and I want to readjust other things.  I want to move into more of a simplier mode.  I hope down the road I am able to continue to do the things that bring me the most joy.  I will continue to spend time with family.  I hope to take more  time to have  coffee and chats with friends.  I will take an active approach in my health, making the simple step of being more active.

In a year from now I hope to be “living the backyard life“, as my husband puts it, still and having that life include little feet running around the house.  My wish is to grow our family.  To go from 3 to 4 or 5.  Whatever it may be.  To be raising a family is my dream.  I also hope that my photography has grown.  I hope it grows into something where I can share it more with people and where I can create something special for families.  I hope my path continues to introduce new people into my life in hopes that bonds can be formed and relationships built.

In the year ahead I plan to continue blogging/journaling, creating a place for others to find help & healing on their infant loss path, as well as a place to share their story through my website www.myinfantloss.com, and continue to find ways to honor Samantha.  I hope to find beauty in the world around me each day, find great joy in the simple things, and grow (mentally, spiritually, and emotionally)

I will be adding another word to make my one word motto into a two word motto.  As the new year begins I plan to carry two words with me…trust and strength.

 

My week 3 assignment for my Illuminate course consists of two mini assignments rolled into one.  First we were challenged with taking steps, 100 steps to be exact.  We had to walk 100 steps and take a photo using what was available around us at that moment as our focus.  Second, we had to focus our writing on gratefulness.  I went on two different walks where every 100th step I took a photo.  Each walk I went on I combined the collective photos into a video.  So, 100 steps & gratefulness.

When you think about it, 100 steps really isn’t that much.  But there are times when even one step seems like way too much, so to accomplish one hundred is just out of reach and unthinkable.  I’ve been there before.  My husband and I have been together for over 16 years, married for 5 +.  Yes, that makes us high school sweethearts, and then some. We’ve had ups and downs in that time, but  what relationship doesn’t, especially after being together for so many years.  However, we have never hit as low of a point as we did this year when we had to say goodbye to Samantha.  The simplest of tasks became the hardest.  Sometimes, even the difficult steps were just a blur because you walk around so numb.  You move through life, while life around you moves on.  If it weren’t for my husband, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am.

I am grateful for my husband and the relationship we have.  It is a deep relationship, filled with:  love, communication, strength, encouragement, commitment, warmth, and arms to hold you.

Steps can lead you up, down, winding, straight, and even sometimes backwards.  Have I stumbled on my journey, yes I have.  But through it all, I have been learning from it all.  The steps of the path I am and taking currently, are steps I never thought I would take.  Who does?  For most…you grow up, get a job, get married, and decide to have a family.  No where in your thought and plan do you decide to become the parent of child who is in heaven.  Unfortunately, those are the cards I was dealt.  However, as unfortunate as it is, honestly I am able to remain very thankful and grateful.

I am grateful for the life I have.  I am grateful for the blessings I have received.  I am grateful for Samantha.  I may not have planed for this, but this is where I am.  I have learned a lot over the past year about life, probably more in that short of time then over the course of my life up to this point.  I have learned to slow down and take the moment in.  I have learned that not having a plan can be just as good as having a plan.  I am learning to do more of things I love to do instead of just thinking about doing them.

Steps can take you down familiar terrain or it can be like trying to cross a river where some steps are easy to make and some are sunken just below the water causing uneasyness.  When we take familiar steps, we easily fall into a rhythm and often a routine.  It isn’t until those steps take us out of comfort zone, sometimes way out of our comfort zone, that we begin to worry, are fearful, or begin to shut down.  There are times when going out of our comfort zone is good for us.  But it is easier to take it all in when it is our choice to move out of the comfort zone.  When we are tossed out of comfort zone by no choice of our own, that is when it sometimes gets tough.  It is important to have family and friends.

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Family is important to me and always has been.  However, now the importance of family is even more valuable than ever before.  Beyond my husband, my family has been another major support in my life.  I am grateful for the prayers, support, conversations, love, and everything else that come with being a family.

I am grateful for the few close friends I have.  Friends that will join me in having a cup of coffee and good converstation.  Friends who are there and supportive, and genuine.

Steps can be easy or they can be hard.  When you have the things you are most grateful in life for surrounding you, the hard steps become a little easier.  Those hard steps sometimes create the opportunity for us to forget the simple things in life, the things we are grateful for.  I encourage you to slow down and take a step.  If you can, take another and then another.  Break down the big things in life, into smaller steps.  Instead of taking 100 steps, try 50, or even 20.  And if that first step is too hard to take on your own, I encourage you to take the hand of someone who can take that step with you.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or God reach your hand out and say “please go with me, help me take this step”.

 

 

 

I took this photo in Spring, just after I placed the stone & planted the flowers.

My week 2 assignment for my Illuminate class is “Finding Your Light”

It has been nearly 10 months since Samantha joined our world and quickly left it.  In the early days, the light and the hope were dim.  It didn’t help that at that time we were on pace to have one of the snowiest winters in a long time.  Plus, we were headed into the coldest time of the year, my husband and I had just gotten over the flu, our furnace had gone out, and I was having to face going back to work.  So, glimpses of hope and light just didn’t seem near.

As the days went by and we slowly got to move into Spring (which didn’t arrive until nearly the end of April) I was ready for the new growth and the freshness that the season would bring.  The warmth, the green, and the flowers.  Little bits of light began to filter through my every day.  Sure, there were still some darker days, but most of the days were becoming more gray than dark with hints of brightness.

As Summer drew in, I was surrounded by warmth.  Warmth from the sun, warmth from friends, and warmth from family.  Each month from Christmas 2010 until this point we had seen our family.  Whether it was a road trip home to celebrate Easter, a wedding shower and wedding, and birthdays or it was family visiting us we got a lot of family time in.  Raun and I surrounded ourselves with our own little road trips, each other, family, and the things that we hold most dear to us.  Life is to short to just sit back and let the days pass you by.  So, we decided to begin doing the things we truly wanted to do and mixed them in with the things we had to do or responsibilities that we had.  I began to realign and look at the things I truly wanted to be a part of my life and what things needed to change.  By the end of the Summer I was seeing things with more color and brightness.  I found myself more and more thankful for the beautiful things around me.

I took this photo the weekend of Samantha's original due date

As Fall began to roll in so did some changes.  One of the biggest change was my job.  I began to realize that my light had mostly gone out and I knew I needed to make a change.  I gave up my classroom and became a building substitute.  This allowed me time, flexibility, and the ability to take care of what I needed (my family, myself, my photography, and myinfantloss.com).  Giving up my classroom lifted a ton of stress and worry off of my shoulders.  The light outside and inside began to shine brighter.  And when my husband began to see the change, we both realized that I had made the right choice.  Fall is one of my favorite times of years and the colors this year were absolutely beautiful.  The changes in the air and the changes in me led me to spend some quiet time at the memorial wall where Samantha’s name is written.  It was there that colors and brightness really began to pop.  It was there that I got the photos that I submitted to Illuminate and allowed me to get this opportunity to expand on ways to help heal.

Shortly, we will be heading into Winter.  We’ve been lucky this Fall, it has last quite some time.  Last year at this time we already were piled up by snow around us.  The daylight is shorter and the days are getting colder.  So, I am going to have to find other ways to bring light and brightness, as well as color into my life.  Fortunately, Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year to decorate my house.  It is one of the times of year I go all out.  And aside from the Christmas tree & stockings, most of it I am able to leave up through the Winter.  I am looking forward to warmly lit, wonderful smelling candles that will be glowing throughout the house.  I am looking forward to the twinkling of the tree lights.  I am looking forward to the frost on the trees sparkling in the sun.  I will be spending time with family, continuing on with traditions, and adding in a few new ones of our own.

I took this on October 15, 2011 to continue the "Wave of Light"

I know there will still be some tough days ahead, but I also know that with God, my husband, my family, and my friends I will be able to see more light and make it through those tough days a little easier.  And someday, hopefully those tough and dark days will turn into just mere moments.  And the light and happiness will not just be in moments, but in days instead.

 

 

 Dear Samantha,

Hi baby girl! You have been on mind a lot this week. I have a story that I want to share with you. It’s about you, my little baby girl. In a few weeks it will be year since we found out about you. In December last year your daddy and I found out we were pregnant for the first time. We were so excited. We shared with all our family that they were receiving an early Christmas present. That present was you!

Things were going well and you were getting bigger and bigger. Daddy and I were getting ready for you to come. We got a crib, made plans for the changing table, and began to plan what your room was going to look like. At Christmas you received a cute little toy in our stocking and I received things to help understand pregnancy better.

Shortly after Christmas I began to feel you moving around. To me, it felt like butterflies fluttering around. On ultrasounds you were a busy little girl, bouncing around inside or maybe even dancing. I would be sitting in the chair and start giggling when I would feel you move around. Daddy would always ask “what?” and I would say “the baby is bouncing around”.

At our first doctor appointment the doctor decided that I needed an ultrasound to see really how big you were. The doctors said one thing, your daddy and I thought another. So, we had our first ultrasound. It was you, me, and the doctors. The ultrasound tech said nothing other than that she needed to go talk to the doctor. I was moved into a room where the doctor talked to me about what the photos showed. I only remember bits and pieces of that talk and that day. We were told that the road ahead was going to be tough. There was extra fluid around your head and the doctor said it was most likely due to Turner’s Syndrome. Just to rule out other possibilities a bunch of test were run and we were sent to the perinatal doctor.

The visit at the perinatal doctor gave us a lot of pictures of you and another chance to watch you moving around. They were unable to do anything else that day, other than say they were pretty sure that you had Turner’s Syndrome. Another appointment was scheduled at a later time to run an amnio. In the meantime we were sent home and brought all of our family up to date on what was going on. We had a busy few weeks. Daddy had a holiday work party that we went to, I had one at my work as well, and we celebrated my teaching achievements at a gala. So you got a chance to be a part of some different things.

We never got a chance to return to the perinatal doctor because in the morning I went to a regular doctor appointment. That is when I found out that you had grown your angel wings. I left the doctor and made a bunch of phone calls. I was told that I needed to go home, get some stuff, and head to the hospital. So, daddy and I packed up some things and headed over to the hospital. That night we had some visitors stop by and then it was just us.

Then next our two, became three when you arrived into the world on January 27, 2011.  You were 17 weeks old, 2.4 ozs., and 5 inches long, a beautiful baby. Daddy and I held you for a while, took some pictures, and got your handprints and footprints. The next day we made your handprints and footprints in clay. That night we went home with a keepsake box (that has now become two boxes) in our arms.

One week later you were buried at Resurrection Cemetery with 25 other little ones. There was a beautiful service and we received a lit candle to honor you. In May your name, Samantha Jean Lauterbach, was written on the children’s memorial garden wall. Every so often I visit you there and you sometimes visit me. You visit me through dragonflies.

You are always in my heart and I wear a special necklace every day that helps me feel closer to you. I miss you baby girl. Some day we will meet again and I will be able to hold you in my arms. I love you!

Love,
Mommy

     

 

I wanted to share that I will be participating in an Illuminate course over the next month or so.  This will give me an opportunity to work through the grief and healing process in another way.  Or should I say, in addition to what I am doing.  It allows me to do two things, take photos and to write as I work through the process.  However, the writing that I will be doing will be on specific topics assigned, as well as the photos I take.  The first assignment is writing a letter to Samantha.  I look forward to working my way through this experience, meeting new people,  and continuing to walk this path while finding new ways to reflect, honor, and cherish.

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